Fourth in a series highlighting this year’s recipients of the Purdue University College of Agriculture’s Distinguished Agriculture Alumni Award. The series will continue each Monday, Wednesday and Friday leading up to March 2, when the honorees will receive their awards during a 3:30 p.m. convocation in the Purdue Memorial Union North Ballroom.
F. Howard Halderman, BS’ 88, of Wabash, Ind., is president of Halderman Farm Management Service Inc. His third-generation farm-management and real-estate organization provides management services to more than 650 farms with a market value in excess of $1 billion in the United States, Canada and South America.
• Which Purdue faculty member had the most profound impact on your professional career? Larry Bohl was my academic adviser. His approach to Agriculture Economics 100 confirmed that I was in the major I wanted to study. His patient guidance and recommendations for courses were extremely valuable. Also, Paul Dewine was the dean of students charged with overseeing the fraternity system. I was part of the Interfraternity Council, serving as a vice president my junior year and president my senior year. Dean Dewine pushed us to constantly improve whatever we did, from running a meeting, to recruiting freshmen, to instituting the first hazing policy.
• What part of your visit back to campus in March are you most looking forward to? Meeting and networking with the other distinguished alumni. Through the years, I’ve found that agriculture is a small universe of people. The most value in any event or activity is the time spent with others. Our clients benefit often from our networks developed from Purdue and other institutions and organizations.
• Why did you select Purdue as the place to continue your education? Purdue is one of the best agricultural schools in the world. As an in-state student, it was/is an excellent value for the dollar invested. Many of our employees are Purdue graduates, and it was very evident they were well prepared upon graduation. Purdue was 70 miles from home, which was nice, too. Also, as the son of two Purdue alumni, I knew the campus and had attended many football and basketball games prior to applying.
• Where was your favorite place on campus to study? My room in the fraternity. Due to my involvement in many campus activities, studying was often done later in the evening and was easier done at home. Our room had a small office, and there I had an IBM XT computer — one of the first microcomputers made.
• Were you a good student when you were at Purdue? Yes. My GPA was above a 3.9. I was the College of Agriculture’s top senior (G.A. Ross Award for top male graduate, 1988). It was a great four years!
• What was the most difficult course you took at Purdue? Economics 251 — Microeconomics. It was difficult because the course was taught to many students by about 30 teaching assistants. The grades were based heavily on the midterm and final exams. Those exams were constructed from questions written by each TA. If another TA focused on different major points than my TA, it was easy to find questions that were unfamiliar. That system made it a challenge.
• What do you miss most about your college days at Purdue? The people, including the professors, my fellow students, my fraternity brothers and all those in administration that made it such a special place. I’ve told many potential students that Purdue may seem like a big place, but in reality, within the College of Agriculture it is like a family.
• What is the best advice you got while you were at Purdue? Get involved. My parents, academic adviser and my fraternity all encouraged me to get involved when I was a freshman. Those two words led to a four-year career that ended as president of the Interfraternity Council and as a member of Iron Key (honorary society) and Mortar Board (honorary society). Without that encouragement, the opportunities to do all I did while at Purdue may not have existed. One of our hiring requirements is the candidate’s involvement in outside activities. I had the opportunity to run a business with an operating budget of $125,000 while still in school. Those experiences are so valuable.
• What is the best advice you have ever given? As president of the Interfraternity Council, I had the opportunity to talk to freshmen during a rush convocation during the first few weeks of school. Additionally, I interacted with many students, parents and faculty throughout my last two years, selling the positive aspects of fraternity life at Purdue. Fraternities can impact a student in so many positive ways and leave lifelong imprints. It is my hope that I was able to offer some good advice to those freshmen as they considered fraternity life.
Read about other 2012 Distinguished Agriculture Alumni Award winners.